24 April 2013

Namibia: New Mine to Boost Gold Output

Mining company B2Gold will on Friday conduct the ground-breaking ceremony for its planned US$240 million (N$2.2 billion) Otjikoto gold mine.

Once operational the Otjikoto mine - located between Otjiwarongo and Otavi - will be the largest gold mine in Namibia, surpassing the output of Navachab.

Meeting for a one-on-one interview with New Era yesterday, B2Gold's Vancouver-based president and chief executive officer, Clive Johnson, said his company will be spending significant amounts of money on further exploration to either expand the mine or lengthen its predicted 12-year life-span.

Otjikoto will operate as an open-pit mine and is estimated to will yield 112 000 ounces of gold annually, although the first five years are expected to produce a higher yield of 141 000 ounces per annum.

Once the mine is fully operational the open pit will measure about two kilometres in length, 600 metres wide and 240 metres deep. The Otjikoto mine, which is 92 percent owned by B2Gold and 8 percent by Namibian black empowerment group, EVI Gold, will employ about 540 people full-time when it is fully operational in 2015 and the plan is to accommodate workers on site during the construction period.

The local directors of EVI Gold for B2Gold Namibia are Dr Leake Hangala and Joshua Kaitungwa.

Once the mining operations commence the plan is to move workers off site and into the neighbouring communities. When asked about the mine's effect on neighbouring farms, B2Gold's Namibian-based managing director, Bill Lytle, noted that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted and farmers in the area were consulted extensively. Also, since the mine will be using groundwater in the area, which has been proven to be in excess of the life-of-mine requirements, Lytle said should there be an effect on groundwater levels on neighbouring farms, such as in the case of a severe drought, the farmers would be compensated accordingly.

Yesterday, Johnson revealed that so far the company has received in excess of 20 000 applications for employment. However, he noted that one of the challenges for the company is the lack of skilled labour in the Namibian market. "There are always challenges to any business and the upscaling of Namibian skills will remain one of the challenges we will address," commented Johnson. In terms of supporting local communities, B2Gold says it is fully committed to the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and is proud of its achievements in that respect.

As part of a thorough needs analysis, the company identified the Otjozondjupa Region, especially the areas of Otavi and Otjiwarongo, for CSR projects focusing on education, health, environmental conservation and SME development.

The B2Gold Corporation operates three other gold mines in the world, two in Nicaragua and one in the Philippines. The company projects gold production in 2013 of approximately 385 000 ounces and approximately 400 000 ounces in 2014. With the first full year of gold production from the Otjikoto mine scheduled for 2015, and increased production projected from existing mines, B2Gold is projecting 2015 gold production of 550 000 ounces, based on current assumptions.

The Otjikoto gold deposit was first discovered in 1997 and B2Gold acquired the project through a business combination with Auryx Gold Corp in December 2011. The processing plant, to be constructed on site, will comprise of primary and secondary crushing facilities, and milling and conventional whole ore leach circuit overall with electro-winning and smelting.

Electro-winning is an electrolytic technology used to recover metals from electroplating rinse waters. Although the technique has traditionally been used only for metal recovery, its application in a well-designed and controlled rinse system can significantly reduce rinse water use, waster water generation and chemical discharge, according to the Merit Partnership Pollution Prevention Project for Metal Finishers.

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